June always special for safety

June 1, 2011
SAFETY remains front and center throughout the year for most tank truck fleets. Still, the spotlight seems even more focused on safety during June especially

SAFETY remains front and center throughout the year for most tank truck fleets. Still, the spotlight seems even more focused on safety during June especially here at Bulk Transporter.

One reason is that June is when the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA) holds its annual Roadcheck roadside truck inspection safety blitz. This year's 72-hour campaign was on June 7-9. The event has been held annually since 1988.

Commercial Motor Vehicle inspectors focused on hours-of-service compliance and distracted driving. Most of the trucks and drivers stopped during the three-day campaign underwent the standard 22-point inspection procedure that focused on a variety of factors, including alcohol and drug use, driver logs, vehicle brakes, lights, and cargo-related factors like placards.

Tank truck carriers have performed well in the annual roadside inspection event that has been held since 1988. During Roadcheck 2010, 97.5% of hazardous materials drivers passed inspection, compared with 95.6% of all truck drivers. Almost 84% of hazmat vehicles successfully passed the inspections, compared with 80% of all commercial vehicles.

June 5-11 was National Tire Safety Week, during which the Department of Transportation, along with various companies and organizations encourage truck drivers and other motorists to pay more attention to tire condition. Doug Jones, customer engineering support manager for Michelin Americas Truck Tires, says tires are the most neglected components on a vehicle. Drivers need to pay more attention to tire pressure, tread depth, and other factors that affect driving safety.

Finally, Bulk Transporter's June issue is almost completely devoted to safety topics. Our cover story profiles A&R Transport Inc, which just won its second National Tank Truck Carriers (NTTC) Outstanding Performance Trophy for safety in five years.

We have the latest update on the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration's (FMCSA's) Compliance, Safety, Accountability (CSA) program, which is still in the implementation process. The CSA update was delivered during NTTC's Tank Truck Safety & Security Council annual seminar in Austin, Texas.

NTTC's decision to support an electronic driver log mandate was discussed in detail during the seminar. NTTC members had voted to support electronic driver logs during the summer membership meeting in July 2010. The American Trucking Associations (ATA) also made the same policy shift over the past year or so.

These were major policy changes for both trucking industry groups, according to Steve Rush, chief executive officer of Carbon Express and former NTTC chairman. “Electronic driver logs are good for the trucking industry, because they give carriers a better sense of operating costs and they improve the driver environment,” he says. “This device absolutely will help us recruit drivers, especially with CSA.”

Drivers and their work conditions were a big part of this year's Tank Truck Safety & Security Council annual seminar. NTTC has proclaimed 2011 to be the Year of Tank Truck Driver Sustainability, and driver issues are a part of every meeting the association holds this year.

Rush said during the Tank Truck Safety & Security Council annual seminar that it is absolutely critical for the tank truck industry to help restore the prestige of the truck driving profession. “When I first got into this industry, truck drivers were called ‘Knights of the Road,’ he said. “They were proud to be drivers. Today, they're afraid to say, ‘I'm a truck driver.’ Our drivers work in the most dangerous environment in the world. They're underpaid and abused. I know there are a lot great companies that don't abuse drivers, but there are still a lot out there that do.”

Petroleum hauling may be one of the most demanding jobs for a tank truck driver today. Driving actually may be the easiest and safest part of the job for these drivers, according to panelists at the annual safety seminar.

“Just getting to and from the loading rack to the delivery location is the easy part of the job,” said Bob Heinisch, vice-president of safety at Eagle Transport Corp. “It takes a highly intelligent individual to be a petroleum driver. They are faced with perils every day.”

Unfortunately, accidents and incidents do happen even with the safest of drivers. In this issue, an attorney discusses steps that can be taken by tank truck carriers to minimize the impact of those events.

All of this should give tank truck fleet safety managers and other carrier executives plenty to think about. After all, safety isn't just a concern during one month of the year. It has to be part of the job every day.

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